31 May 2022


An index of resources about who these “neo-reactionary” aka “NRx” folks are:

  • RationalWiki offers a vigorous overview, a wealth of resources including relationships and contrasts with other movements, and nerdy snark
  • Vanity Fair has a recent thoughtful deep dive by David Pogue looking at the culture of NRx and its relationship with other politics
  • TechCrunch has an old overview which has useful explanations of some key NRx vocabulary and has a pretty big index of links to other resources
  • Current Affairs has a roundtable discussion featuring Elizabeth Sandifer, whose book Neoreaction: A Basilisk is smart, witty, and suitiably unkind
  • Nerdblog Slate Star Codex offers an overview “In An Enormous, Planet-Sized Nutshell” and an Anti-Reactionary FAQ, though I have to offer a big caveat that the author is adjacent to the movement, which must inform any read of his read
  • The Dark Enlightenment is an early sort-of manifesto for the movement; if like me you are a middle-aged weirdo intellectual who remembers the cultural-theory-punk 1990s, it is helpful to situate author Nick Land as a there-but-for-the-grace cautionary demonstration of how we could have gone badly wrong
  • QZ has a 2017 article connecting NRx to both tech culture and other far right movements
  • Mouthbreathing Machiavellis and Moldbug Variations are 2014 articles from leftist culture commentary magazine The Baffler
  • Politico on Steve Bannon and his connection with both the “Alt Right” and NRx
  • Vox with an overview of leading NRx thinker Curtis Yarvin aka Mencius Moldbug, and linking him to Steve Bannon
  • The Dark Elf at Commonweal examines the peculiarities of Yarvin, contrasting the anti-democratic “libertarianism” that he and Thiel represent from other far right movements
  • Mother Jones on Peter Thiel and Senate candidate Blake Masters (though that shades away from NRx into Gray Tribe, see below)
  • The Darkness at the End of the Tunnel is a long discussion of the overlaps between NRx and a particlar kind of nerdy obsession with potential artificial intelligence, which Sandifer’s book linked above also addresses at length

Caveat: some of those are from an old index of mine where I was accumulating resources, so I have not reviewed them recently and am sharing from memory.

This tweetrant by Jay Allen <@a_man_in_black> is useful in getting the texture:

NRx is Neoreaction. Racist, monarchist nerds, with varying degrees of emphasis on each. Their version of SJWs/cultural Marxists is “the Cathedral”, a liberal academic conspiracy to marginalize them. NRx is against liberal bullshit like immigration, democracy, and human rights. NRx-ers envision a racially-pure autarky with an autocratic leader. The difference between them and fascists isn’t clear to me. They like to take credit for the entire alt right but responsibility for no one, inside or outside NRx. So of course half of the NRx screeds are against intellectual cowardice. NRx is popular with the [4chan] /pol/ crowd, natch.

Fascists romanticize violence; NRx’ers don’t. Fascists don’t really care about policy; NRx’ers do. Still: too close.

Okay I lied I do know the differences between NRx and fascism. NRx doesn’t (usually) idolize the military or demonize intellectualism. They have utopian or colonial ideas about achieving racial purity. They’ll convince all the undesirables to move away or all move somewhere with no undesirables (or no settlement at all). More Zionist than Ein Volk, Ein Reich.

NRx eschews solidarity, too. They aren’t a movement or an ideology, just a vague pile of shitty ideas. Their term for themselves is often “the University”, emphasizing their “diversity of thought”, opposing the Cathedral of liberals. Paralleling Eric Scott Raymond’s writing about the Cathedral and the Bazaar, in free software. (ESR is not NRx.)

NRx-ers are often freethought/atheists, manosphere/MRAs, and free software types, so they have their meanings for those communities’ terms. NRx-ers “redpill” converts, for example. NRx exalts “western civilization”, which is pretty much code for whiteness.

They have a complicated relationship with religion. NRx-ers alternately love Catholicism as traditional and eschew “superstition.”

NRx has that particular fringe tactic of being so fractious that they don’t have to take responsibility for each other. Everyone else is no true NRx-er.

I got into a discussion on Twitter about how NRx is far right but significantly different from fascism. Key excerpts:

I will grant that fascism & NRx are cousins in the shape of their reactionary sensibilities. The skepticism of modernity as a deep threat, the romanticization of the better culture of a poorly-specified past, with the odd futurism threaded into the reaction.

But NRx sees the corrupting influences as systemic: libdem and alien cultures. Fascism sees the corrupting influences as people: Everyone But The Volk. (Exemplified by the racism & antisemitism of the NSDAP, though it need not take that particular form.)

Fascism is very explicitly and romantically nationalist, yearning for a “strong” nation-state which is the true expression of its True People. NRx sees the nation-state instrumentally, and is sometimes directly skeptical of it as the right political form.

The overlapping yearning for “traditional” moral & social sensibilities has a similar split. Fascists start from a romantic fantasy of wanting everyone to Live Right. Stuff like economics will just sort itself out (and I strongly recommend John Holbo’s long essay on that tendency among conservatives in general) while NRx’ers start at the other end: “in the name of prosperity, we see that Science shows us that we must cultivate certain virtues, even if we know that the religions animating them are kind of bullshit”.

It is obvious to a lefty like me that NRx’ers are mostly rationalizing their personal squick about trans people or whatever as important for Prosperity & Truth for Reasons, yes — one can see a parallel version of this in the “turn” some “libertarians” take to white nationalism — but that does not make libertarianism or NRx nothing other than a guise of white nationalism. NRx’s undercooked rationalism is very different from fascism’s Trust Your Blood.

Earlier on this blog, I said this about leading NRx thinker Curtis Yarvin:

Yarvin is an extraordinarily terrible person. Not just extraordinary in the degree of his terribleness, but in the kind of his terribleness.

Under the name “Mencius Moldbug” he wrote the blog Unqualified Reservations, in which he made very very long and complicated arguments about culture & politics which made him one of the leading figures in a small, energetic, strange, nerdy, evil movement of political ideas known as the “Dark Enlightenment” or “Neo-Reaction” or “NRx”.

Moldbug said that if one reads enough dead white reactionaries, one realizes that democracy stinks and liberalism is at war with human nature, so we would be better off if we appointed someone smart like Steve Jobs to be dictator of America. Or maybe we should clone Charles II and crown the clone king. After all, Singapore is authoritarian but a nice place to live and very economically productive. This long, tortured argument was full of repulsive asides like, “Golly, reviving slavery is probably not the best move, but while it is not a big deal to me, I have to admit that dead white reactionaries made a lot of persuasive arguments that slavery is actually a good idea, and if you think about it, Black people really are best suited to slavery, aren’t they? Not that I’m a white nationalist, though. Those guys are not as smart as I am.”

If you don’t know Moldbug, I know that sounds like a parody. It is not. That is a succinct taste of stuff the blog really said. I read a fair bit of it years ago, fascinated by its bizarre style and repulsive ideas.

Moldbug is not exactly a Nazi or a fascist; he reflects an idiosyncratic far right sensibility significantly different but equally horrible. Yarvin was not attached to a political movement which did anything real, they just said a bunch of crazy, evil stuff on the internet, but that is still quite bad enough. And though really just a blowhard, he is a dangerous, damaging blowhard. He has radicalized a bunch of nerds. Yarvin evidently had some kind of contact with the Trump campaign though the racist, fascist advisor Steve Bannon. Fascist or not, I cannot overstate how evil his ideas and influence are.

Rather than get fussy about which evil far-right nuts are According To Hoyle “fascists”, antifascists use the word “fash” as a term of art for the whole range of evil far right nuts. Moldbug is definitely fash, and I will refer to him as such here.

In understanding these folks, it is also worth getting a sense of the adjacent-but-not-the-same “Gray Tribe” of libertarian-ish nerds disgusted by both liberal and conservative politics:

This is deep geekery, but if you are digging into Curtis Yarvin, you may also want to know about his software infrastructure project Urbit and its implicit politics:

  • Popehat has about as accessible an introduction to what the heck Urbit itself is as one could hope for
  • Distributed Web Of Care has a smart critique of why Urbit’s structure is bad and concentrates power in some bad hands

26 May 2022

Cowardly police

Enraged by reports that police spent most of an hour waiting outside while the Uvalde shooter murdered nineteen kids, a thread by Dan Kim (김명준) <@danielmkim>:

I can’t fucking sleep tonight. Kept thinking about one of my last calls as an EMT after reading about cops not willingly putting themselves in harm’s way. August 2001. I pulled my bus up just outside the PD cordon at the site of a DV [domestic violence] call. Lots of nervous Barney Fife types with their hands on their pistols, taking cover behind their cars, filling the radio with useless traffic. Fire dispatch briefed me enroute. Normally, no biggie, treat the DV victim(s) & transport.

This MFer was a 10-43: barricaded, probably armed, with hostages. I introduced myself to the on-scene commander, who looked the part: lean, muscular, confident voice & demeanor, lots of service hash marks on his sleeve. I say looked the part, because he sure as shit didn’t act that way as the night went on. You see, even with 5 or 6 cops with him, not to mention probable cause to enter the domicile, he wouldn’t. He wanted to wait for the county to send Emergency Service Unit (ESU), but those heavily armed meatheads would need an hour or more to spin up. Meanwhile, we waited & sweated. No negotiator, no ESU door kickers, couldn’t even get a helo to spotlight the house. I asked SGT M why he couldn’t move in with the cops he had. His answer blew me away & still makes me angry to this day.

M didn’t want to “unnecessarily risk” his officers. I was gobsmacked. Like, MFer, that badge means we all accept that risk. Fuck it, I’ll go. M told me to stand down. I told him to go fuck himself. We heard 2 shotgun blasts inside the house. One. Pause. Pause. Two. I knew what that meant, given the math, but it never registered with M or his officers. I felt sick. I told him he needed to go in now, so I could treat the hostages. He told me to stand down, ESU was on the move. One more shotgun blast.

M’s mouth kept opening & closing like a bass you just pulled out of the water. I told him I was going in because the risk was gone. M was right, I wasn’t an LEO [law enforcement officer], I had no business going in, but deep down, I knew my bag wouldn’t help any of the 3 people inside.

The fucking door wasn’t even locked. And I was right, there was nothing I could do. Wife took a 10-gauge shell to the neck in the bedroom. Bled out through her carotid. 3- or 4-year old child must’ve been hiding in the bathroom when Dad got to them.

DV perp turned the shotgun on himself, but didn’t manage to die right away. It was messy. He sounded like he was choking on his own blood. I wanted that kid to live more than any other patient I had in my time as an EMT. But I also knew that answer was no.

I still see that kid in my dreams, now & again. I see them every time I read about a school massacre. I see the murdered child, whose last thought was probably a fear that no one — let alone a fucking goddamn child — should ever have.

The perp? Fuck him. Let him choke agonizingly on his own blood. Yeah, I disregarded my training, but fuck that guy who just killed his family. M finally entered the house & asked why I wasn’t treating the perp. AYFKM?!

Long story short, my report (I thought) was a verbal flamethrower that would tank M’s career & any possible future as an LEO. Nothing. Fucking. Happened. Because I was just an EMT, not LE. What could I possibly know? M is now the deputy chief of his department.

I told @drjchernov earlier tonight that some people who can’t accept that their badge = risking their own life aren’t meant for PD/Fire/EMS. That’s the job. I did accept that, but I also realized I had other issues to deal with, unrelated to my EMT days.

There was also a quick side trip to the World Trade Center a month later, & that only confirmed that my decision was/remains the correct one for me at that time. Then I read that LEOs waited for backup in Uvalde while kids died, & this specific call came roaring back.

Fuck, I wouldn’t wish that kind of memory on my worst enemy. I saw the child again. Younger than yesterday’s victims, but still a child. Then I picked up my kids from school, & kept my utter & abject sense of relief to myself, hidden in anodyne questions about their day.

How fucking dare you? I’ll say it again, I don’t give one tenth of half a fuck — how dare you, you cowardly pieces of shit who aren’t worthy of the badges on your chests? Children died because of your inaction. Children died while you waited for fucking backup. Children died because you were either unable or unwilling to put your body between the perp & (I can’t stress this enough) defenseless fucking children whose only sin yesterday was to go to school wanting to learn & hang out with friends.

Now, typing this, all I can see is that child huddled between the tub & the toilet, hoping his dad wouldn’t do the unthinkable. Then seeing the results of what had been unthinkable. We all see the unthinkable on a weekly basis now. At least, news of it.

It’s time for that to change. This is macabre, but not new: if the victims’ families agree, publish the crime scene photos. Let America see what their passion for unfettered gun ownership hath wrought. Then maybe we’d get common sense gun laws like a background check.

Enough platitudes, I can’t swallow another one without wanting to puke. Fuck your thoughts & prayers. Politicians, you have the statutory power to do something about this scourge. Yet. You. Do. Fuck. All.

Do it for children who just want to play during recess. Do it for folks shopping socializing at a supermarket because racist zoning rules made that a gathering place. Do it for congregants at a synagogue, patients at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Do it for Asian salon workers in Atlanta & Dallas. Do it for your country, as alien as that concept might sound to you. Like The Onion says after all such massacres - not mass shootings, these are massacres - “No way to prevent this, says only nation where this regularly happens”


Keeping this one in my pocket for the next time some cop brags about being a “sheepdog” who “puts my life on the line to protect people”.

If you don’t recognize the sheepdog thing, it is violent authoritarian propaganda commonly taught to cops which casts them as “sheepdogs” gifted with the impulse to violence which enables them to protect ordinary citizens — (sheep) from Violent Criminals (wolves). Most famous for turning up in the creepy American Sniper film.

This pairs with another bit from Cliff 🦖 Jerrison <@pervocracy>:

I feel like the facts still aren’t out on the Uvalde police response but one thing that seems really clear and not for the first time is that cops in fear for their lives act in the exact opposite manner from cops “in fear for their lives”.

if the conceit of thinbluelineism is that we need to tolerate unaccountable and vicious men among us, and the damage they cause, so that there’s someone even scarier than the bad guys ready to fight when shit really goes down

well, oops

The “in fear for their lives business” is, of course, how cops justify killing people, as they do a thousand times a year, literally. Among others.

This is reflected in another Twitter thread, from Chaos Bride Kyelaag <@Monstrous_Fest>:

Folks are talking about police a bunch, and that’s something I might actually be able to provide context for.

Police are never, and will never be, required to endanger themselves in any way for any reason. This has been litigated thoroughly.

The argument cop reps make is that nobody’s job can require that they jump in front of bullets like weird nerds for idiot tech moguls.

This argument is reasonable! Nobody’s job should demand the employee’s death as a condition of employment.

The obvious problem, of course, is that cops’ job is purportedly to protect people from violence.

The corollary is that this is not a cop’s actual job. They have no duty to prevent violence, no duty to put themselves at any risk, no duty to help anyone.

No cop will ever be punished for refusing to help, ever. Or refusing to risk anything.

This is why cops insist so hard that their jobs are intrinsically dangerous! They don’t have to take any risks, so their narratives emphasize that they are actually the victims.

Corollary: never, ever believe anything a press release tells you about what cops do or did, because cops tailor them very carefully.

This is why cops primarily assault people who are not armed, and why they do so with deadly weapons. To minimize risk.

The primary responsibility of any individual cop is to minimize risk to themselves.

No cops ‘confronted’ the shooter, because they could have gotten hurt. No cops entered the school, because they could have gotten hurt.

The tricky bit here is that they didn’t let parents help.

Because once they’re on scene, and protecting themselves, if they had let other people get involved they would have increased the risk to themselves, the cops.

And the cops’ job is to show up, protect themselves, and document their fear of risk.

That’s it.

This easily gets tangled up in the PR cops have done in the past. “To protect and serve” is not a statement of duty. No cop is required to protect or to serve. Most of us have some perception of a “good cop” who has responsibilities.

That is fiction.

Thanks, Terry Pratchett.

Any portrayal of a “good cop” is not a portrayal of a cop engaging in their job. If a cop helps someone for any reason, it is entirely external to their identity as a cop. They might have done a “good thing”, but a doctor who holds the door isn’t necessarily a “good doctor.”

Eliminate this fiction wherever you recognize yourself engaging in it.

Never fucking watch die hard again. Or a police procedural.

Because when we collectively think cops should be responsible or do any good, in the smallest way possible, they will not.

This is why it’s more dangerous to be literally anyone else than to be a cop.

Everyone’s job requires interaction with danger. Traffic. Violent customers. Dealing with cops. Hospitality is incredibly dangerous!

Cops make up a guy and then kill him for their own safety.

Institutionally, police are pretty much the only profession that permits its members to arm themselves against a hypothetical threat and then kill anyone who overlaps with it.

The rest of us have to be polite and bandage ourselves and hope. Cops don’t.

This is, as a corollary, why cops hate civilians so much.

If a cop is in danger it is because a civilian inconvenienced them.

Something bad happened, and a civilian saw a cop nearby or attempted to invoke one.

This causes risk to the cop. Punishable by death.

Takeaway: it is dangerous just to call the police. It is more dangerous, in many ways, to call them, because by exposing them to danger you give them excuses to punish, assault, or kill you.

And, as above, their job is to identify risk and then eliminate the source.

In Uvalde, this is what happened. Cops were seen by civilians, and they did what cops do. They protected themselves, and then controlled the most convenient source of risk to their jobs — the civilians that saw them.

And then they lied about it. Poorly.

The description of the lack of police obligation to help having been litigated thorougly may sound implausible, but it is true:

This case builds upon Supreme Court precedent in Deshaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (1989). In that case, a young boy was repeatedly abused at the hands of his father, something that county Social Services was aware of, but made no effort to remove the child. His mother sued once the four-year old entered a vegetative state, and the Court ruled that that the state did not have a special obligation to protect a citizen against harms it did not create.

Based on these precedents, Lozito was told in the New York City case that “no direct promises of protection were made” to him, and therefore he could not sue the police for failing to come to his aid. In other words, the police do not have to act if someone is actively being harmed, they do not have to arrest someone who has violated orders, and they do not have any obligation to protect you from others.

Most of us like to imagine, or at least hope, that we would place ourselves between children and a killer, even if we were barehanded. Anyone who would not — or worse, who did not while still expecting to be called “brave” rather than feel shame for their cowardice — has no business carrying a badge, much less a gun.

11 May 2022

This American moment of reälignment

A Twitter thread from Thomas Zimmer describes very well my own read of the mechanics of the dangerous fecklessness of the Democratic Party in this moment. Here’s a taste:

The fundamental asymmetry of American politics is captured precisely by the fact that Pelosi won’t stop with the “strong GOP” nostalgia while no one on the Republican side would even consider saying something like this about the Democratic Party. It’s so bizarre.

I want the Republican Party to take back the party to where you were when you cared about a woman’s right to choose, you cared about the environment. Here I am, Nancy Pelosi, saying this country needs a strong Republican Party. Not a cult.

— Nancy Pelosi


One important explanatory factor is age: People like Pelosi came up in a very different political environment, when there was indeed a great deal of bipartisan cooperation in Congress – and they are longing for a return to the days of amity across party lines.

Additionally, this inability to grapple in earnest with the post-Obama reality in which Democratic politicians are almost universally considered members of an “Un-American” faction by most Republicans has deeper ideological roots.

Some establishment Democrats seem to feel a kinship with their Republican opponents grounded in a worldview of white elite centrism and status-quo dogma – they seem to believe that it is high time to push back against the “radical” forces of “leftism” and “wokeism”.

I strongly recommend reading the whole thing. And it got me ranting on Twitter, which I have refined here.

In a way, geezer Dems’ confused nostalgia for Working With Republicans is driven by memories reaching all of the way back to the Nixon era, misunderstanding the history of major American political reälignments. So we have to talk about that, to understand the dynamics on the right side of the aisle which got us here.

FDR created a dynamic of US politics shaped by the New Deal and its legacy of the regulatory and social insurance state. The Democratic Party became the party of New Deal liberalism; Republicans became the party of Sure, But Slow Down There Bucko.

Through this era in the middle of the 20th century, parties were ideologically incoherent in today’s terms. The Democrats were more liberal but their coalition included the racist whites of the South who still refused to vote for Lincoln’s party; this is why many New Deal policies set terms for “universal” benefits which actually excluded Black people. The Republicans largely opposed Democrats’ liberal social insurance policies, but had to respond to those policies’ popularity. These ideological coalitions, shaped by liberal & Democratic Party strength resting on the popularity of New Deal policy, explains why Republican Presidents Eisenhower & Nixon seem oddly liberal on policy to contemporary eyes.

Nixon started the process of breaking the New Deal political order with his Southern Strategy of appealing to racist whites in the South. Reagan secured that shift, making a new Republican coalition the lodestar of US politics: movement conservatism.

Movement conservatism bound together pseudo-libertarian neoliberalism dedicated to tearing down the regulatory and social insurance state of the New Deal (for the benefit of corporations aka rich people) with “social conservatism” of racism, sexism, and Christian nationalism. This coalition does not really make sense, but Reagan figured out how to say that New Deal universal social insurance and public goods are bad because they benefit undeserving (Black) people without it sounding harsh or nonsensical, which is why conservatives still revere him.

Reagan made movement conservatism the new lodestar of US politics, just as FDR had done with the New Deal. In neoliberals like Bill Clinton and Barak Obama, the Democrats now took the position of The Party Of Sure, But Slow Down There Bucko.

Geezer Democrats like Biden & Pelosi learned to do politics during Reagan’s administration as this new US politics took shape. New Deal liberalism was bleeding but not yet dead, so Democrats held enough power to force Republicans in Congress to work with them. But Democrats who tried the old New Deal playbook got crushed in elections, producing the neoliberal turn for the Party secured by Clinton in ’92. The Reagan administration moment, in which there was politics to do be done by slowly capitulating to movement conservatism as the new center of US politics, is the lost Arcadia which Pelosi describes yearning to return to. Her cohort came to understand the Movement Conservatism But Slow Down There Bucko moves of WJC & BHO — NAFTA, balancing the budget, financial de-regulation, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the Heritage Foundation’s healthcare plan — as how effective operators win elections. Any other moves were naïve, a loser at the ballot.

As the Twitter thread I linked at the top shows, though, the geezer Democrats who learned those bad lessons have not registered how Republican politics came to work under the long reign of movement conservatism, which marries True Believer zealots to nihilistic mercenary opportunists. The True Believers of the Republican coalition are the “social conservatives” who think that they are the only Real Americans. The nihilists just care about winning for their corporate friends, rather than good governance ... or democracy. Both parts of this Republican electoral crew framed Democrats not merely as political opponents who were wrong — which would have required arguing against liberal policy on the merits, which is hard — but rather dismissed Democrats as illegitimate.

Many liberals draw an unwholesome comfort from believing that the Republican denial of Democrats’ legitimacy reflects only a racist rejection of BHO and a sexist rejection of HRC. I have talked about that before with respect to HRC’s Presidential candidacy:

If the Republican candidate for President in 2016 had been a movement conservative — Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or one of those guys — she would have crushed him like a bug.

But that was not the race we got.

The vitriol HRC & BHO faced from conservatives certainly was full of sexism & racism … but it was also there from Republican press & politicians during Bill Clinton’s Presidency. He faced endless bullshit press. As did Al Gore. As did John Kerry. As did Howard Dean. As does Joe Biden. The vast rightwing conspiracy has been working the refs for so long that bullshit press for anyone left of the center of the Republican Party is baked in.

The denial of the legitimacy of Democrats was born in opposition to the Clinton administration, and Republicans fully committed themselves — extending to denial of legitimacy of any small-d democratic institutions which denied them power — in the fight over the 2000 Presidential election results. Republicans defied the popular vote, cheated in plain sight, and sacrificed the independence of the Supreme Court … to win against Al Gore of all people, the square white guy whom neolib centrist Bill Clinton picked as his campaign running mate in order to secure his right flank.

Conservative media enabled and accelerated this turn against Democrats’ legitimacy during the Era Of Movement Conservatism. Again, this had already started happening during the Clinton administration, with the Wall Street Journal editorial page crediting crackpot nonsense.

Though figures like William F. Buckley had purged the far right wackos when they were building movement conservatism in the 1960s, in the 1990s conservative media brought the nuts back in. Limbaugh and Fox “News” and the rest have skimmed the crazies looking for ideas which stick for the last 30 years now, leading conservative media further and further toward the far right each year.

Conservative media parallels the Republican Party leadership’s weird alliance of True Believer zealots and opportunistic nihilists. All of these people benefit from denying Democrats’ & liberals’ fundamental legitimacy. The zealots want Republican voters radicalized this way, because they really do believe that liberals are not Real Americans, while the nihilists do not care so long as it buys them victories. After a few decades of this, the Republican Party and conservative media have pushed their voters further and further into denying liberals’ legitimacy in governance. Or even as citizens.

This puts Republican electeds in a trap of their movement’s own making. If they engage in good faith with Democrats at all, they lose primaries against challengers who will oppose Democrats out of obstinate anti-liberalism. The Republican Party cannot bring back the Arcadia which geezer Democrats dream of, even if they wanted to.

The original dynamic of movement conservatism — pseudo-libertarian neolibs with corporate money selling their policy agenda by coating it in “socially conservative” rhetoric pushed through controlled media to bigoted voters — has at this point completely reversed. The tail wags the dog. The success of DJT’s candidacy for the Republican nomination in 2016 emerged from these dynamics; even had he lost the election, his candidacy would have killed movement conservatism. One can miss this because Trump’s disinterest in actual governance kept the movement conservative policy zombie on its feet; rich sponsors of the destruction of the regulatory state still got their policy victories. But it is rusted through.

The Republican Party — the entire conservative complex — dreads the nuttiest supporters. The media platforms need the audience, so they feed the crazy. The Republican Party needs the voters, so they pander to them … increasingly by putting True Believer zealots in office.

With this implosion and reversal, the Republican Party is undergoing a reälignment of the same profundity created by the New Deal and movement conservatism — and since the Democrats settled into standing for The Movement Conservative Agenda But Less for the last 30 years, they too face a reälignment which their leadership do not seem to see at all. They only know how to run the playbook that weathered the long neoliberal winter of movement conservatism, a world we cannot return to even if that were desirable.

The Republican Party is hollowed out to anti-liberalism and DJT’s cult of personality. This is terrifying; the term for politics which rejects the legitimacy of any politics or citizens occupying any other position, which uses liberal democratic norms in bad faith to destroy libdem institutions, which cares more about theatre than policy, which has a cult of personality around a hateful blatherer is — fascism. But things remain in motion. We have not yet arrived at a new era with a party of fascism and a party of The Fascist Agenda But Less.

The Democrats must seize the tiller and make sure that they, and not this Republican Party, define the new lodestar of US politics which will replace the movement conservatism which replaced New Deal liberalism. Yet their sclerotic leaders cannot even see the need, much less offer a solution.